Dominique Lamb NRA


In her April column for RetailBiz, National Retail Association CEO Dominique Lamb (pictured) asks whether a 7.2 per cent increase to the minimum wage is more likely to create jobs—as the ACTU claims—or send Aussie businesses broke.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions’ (ACTU) Sally McManus is rapidly becoming one of the most controversial leaders in Australia, for her ferocious, but erroneous, attacks on the business community.

Recently the ACTU made an outlandish claim to back up its push for a 7.2 per cent increase to the minimum wage—that doing so would create 87,000 new jobs over two years.

The Change the Rules campaign and six-point plan the ACTU claims will lift wages has been designed specifically to exploit people’s fears by misrepresenting information, and dressing it up in a highly emotive way, to try and convince the nation that businesses are effectively swindling their workers while the ‘fat cats’ kick back, smoke fancy cigars and enjoy their never-ending bundles of cash.

But simply asserting that business owners are greedy fat cats who can afford to pay each of their workers an extra $50 per week doesn’t make it true.

The idea that a $50 per week increase to the minimum wage will somehow, magically, then lead to more jobs for Australians is clearly an idea dreamt up by those who’ve never actually had to pay wages out of their own pockets, and who are entirely ignorant of the challenges of running a business.

The Australian’s Janet Albrechtsen outlined in a column recently just a handful of some of the false claims the ACTU is using to rally the troops:

ACTU: Profits are up 20 per cent and wages are at two per cent. There’s something wrong. It’s not being shared fairly at the moment.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS): Business profits rose 5 per cent in the year to December and the total wage bill rose 4.8 per cent.

ACTU: Productivity has risen while wages haven’t.

ABS: Consumer wages have risen 54 per cent during the past 25 years and productivity has risen 51 per cent in the same period, in real terms.

ACTU: Insecure work is spreading.

Productivity Commission: The percentage of casual workers—21 per cent—hasn’t changed for two decades.

With 96 per cent of the nation’s businesses in the small category, it’s everyday people out there trying to turn a profit that the ACTU wants to force into paying these absurd wage increases.

You know how hard it is to turn a profit because you’re one of them, along with a couple of million other employers across the country who’ve taken giant leaps of faith to start businesses, who’ve sacrificed endless hours of family time, who’ve risked their financial futures, who’ve taken terrifying risks, and who work their butts off every day in order to create employment for millions of Australians.

But it’s not just a crazy hike to the minimum wage. The ACTU has upped the ante even further on its war-like stance against employers just like you and is fighting for a fully-fledged overhaul of our workplace relations rules.

It is trying to strip power from the Fair Work Commission—the independent umpire it helped to create—because it doesn’t like its rulings.

More frightening is that the ACTU is trying to take that power for itself, and is asking the nation to simply trust that it won’t ever abuse that power.

As the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO James Pearson recently wrote in a column calling on employers to speak up about how they are aggrieved by problems in the workplace relations laws: “Unions are cynically vilifying their own legislation and running a campaign to scare working people into thinking that making a bad situation worse will be better for them…

“For all the retro, 1970s class war rhetoric, for all the high cost, slick advertisements, social media and rallies, the ACTU’s proposals will ultimately serve the interests of only one group: union officials.”

The problem with the ACTU’s six-point plan is that it’s actually more likely to send businesses broke and, in turn, cost Australians their jobs.

If businesses become unsustainable through the impossible demands of the ACTU, they will end up having to close their doors and that means everyone loses their shifts.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but that seems like a bad outcome for businesses, workers, and for the Australian economy.

Dominique Lamb is the CEO of the National Retail Association.


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